Friday, February 6, 2015

Oscar Movie Review: "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1948)

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Oscar Movie"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre"
Year Nominated: 1949
Director: John Huston
Rating: TV PG
Running Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes
Did It Win?: No.

A pair of broke homeless Americans named Frank Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Bob Curtin (Tim Holt) are trying to make ends meet in Mexico. After being cheated out of wages by a crooked business man, they are beguiled by the stories of an old prospector named Howard (Walter Houston). Dobbs and Curtin join Howard on a trip to the Sierra Madre mountains to prospect for gold. After a few struggles getting there, they set up camp and start to strike it rich, but greed and paranoia set in, driving a wedge between the friends as they become increasingly hostile towards each other. They may have to stick together if they plan to keep their new found gold as others try to move in on their claim. Bandits are known for roaming the Mexican deserts and will kill the men for whatever valuables they have, but their gold fever may make that impossible. 

"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" teeters a fine line between being darkly humorous and devilishly dubious, and while the word "classic" is thrown around a lot in Hollywood, this film certainly deserving of that title. It has excellent acting from all of the principal actors involved and each adds a little something different to the story as each character has a vastly different personality. Humphrey Bogart is excellent as Frank Dobbs, a man who is paranoid and doesn't trust a soul as he has often been cheated out of what he deserves. He becomes a man who is driven mad by greed and longing, which we understand because he goes from having nothing to the possibility of getting a chance to make something of himself. He lusts and wants for not just gold, but a better life, too. His portrayal of someone who undergoes a slow descent into madness is tremendous and as an audience, we feel both heartbroken for him and ashamed at him. Tim Holt is also very good as Curtin and he plays the Yin to Dobb's Yang. He has strong integrity and is a man of his word, and much like Dobbs, has had a hard time in life, but is far less paranoid. Finally, we have Walter Houston as the experienced prospector, who often acts as the voice of reason and has experienced it all before. He is phenomenal and took home the Best Supporting Actor award for his part in this film. We get where each of these characters are coming from and we really do understand each of their points of view. We as the audience are able to get immersed in why Dobbs is so paranoid as this is not a group of old friends he is dealing with. They have only known each other for a very short time and they really only have a business agreement, nothing more. They have little reason to trust each other outside of the fact that it is mutually beneficial to do so in order to protect each other from the bandits who want to rob them. And speaking of bandits, one of them speaks one of the most misquoted and parodied lines in film history: "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges." This is often misquoted or parodied to simply "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges." Blame The Monkees for this truncation.

The bottom line is that this film is one of the original greats. It is fantastic, and even now, 67 years after its release, it is still enjoyable.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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